KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – Marcus Mariota led Tennessee to 3 second-half touchdowns, extremely throwing considered one of his TD passes to himself , and the Titans rallied from a 21-Three deficit to beat the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs 22-21 on Saturday for his or her first playoff win in 14 years.
Mariota threw for 205 yards and two scores, together with the 22-yard go-ahead strike to Eric Decker with simply over six minutes left that ushered the Titans into the divisional spherical of the playoffs.
“Particular, particular,” Mariota mentioned. “I am part of an amazing group. I am part of a bunch of men that actually simply imagine in one another. And, it is one thing particular and I am look ahead to enjoying subsequent week.”
They’re going to head to New England or Pittsburgh subsequent week.
Derrick Henry had a career-high 156 yards dashing and one other rating for Tennessee (10-7), whereas a protection that was fileted by Alex Smith and the Chiefs (10-7) in the course of the first half pitched a shutout within the second half – dooming the Kansas Metropolis franchise to a different humiliating postseason defeat.
The Chiefs have not gained a house playoff recreation since January 1994.
Smith threw for 264 yards and two touchdowns , however most of that got here earlier than halftime. He could not get on observe within the second half and misfired on fourth-and-9 on the Titans 44 with simply over two minutes to go, denying the Chiefs an opportunity for Harrison Butker to kick a go-ahead discipline objective.
The letdown was made much more miserable when Henry appeared to fumble as Tennessee tried to expire the clock.
The Chiefs’ Derrick Johnson picked up the ball and returned it for a landing with 1:47 to go, however a video replay confirmed that Henry was down and the decision was overturned.
Tennessee succeeded in working out the clock from there.
Within the first half, the Chiefs appeared each bit the group that had gained 4 straight in convincing style, and the Titans appeared each bit the group that backed into the playoffs.
Kareem Hunt, the league’s prime rusher this season , plunged in from 1 yard for a 7-Zero lead, and Smith hit Travis Kelce with a 13-yard landing go a couple of minutes later. Smith added one other landing toss to Demarcus Robinson on the ultimate offensive play for a 21-Three lead on the break.
Smith was 19 of 23 for 231 yards within the half. Mariota was 7 of 13 for 81 yards and a choose.
The Titans’ younger quarterback acquired on observe within the second half, although, changing a few key third downs – considered one of them along with his legs – in marching his group 91 yards. He capped it by throwing the primary TD go to himself, the primary participant to perform the feat in playoff historical past.
The earlier participant to do it in any recreation was the Vikings’ Brad Johnson in the course of the 1997 season.
“Proper place, proper time,” Mariota mentioned with a smile.
Tennessee almost squandered its momentum when Adoree Jackson fumbled a punt, however the Chiefs have been unable to choose up a primary down and Butker knocked a 48-yard discipline objective off the upright.
This time, it was Henry who led the Titans downfield, capping one other TD drive by rumbling almost untouched 35 yards proper up the center to get inside 21-16 with 14:08 to go.
“Grit. It is simply grit,” Henry mentioned of his group’s rally.
“You have to imagine in one another, man. We have been down like this final 12 months and we got here again. We instructed them we have 30 minutes left, all we have to do is play our recreation, execute the performs and every little thing will deal with itself.”
The Chiefs’ offense had been rendered impotent by that time, unable to maneuver the ball a lot after Kelce left with a concussion within the first half. The Titans blanketed Tyreek Hill at any time when he touched the ball, they usually stacked the field to gradual Search out in apparent dashing conditions.
The Titans lastly pulled forward when Mariota threw a strike to Decker from 22 yards, and that led to a second of controversy. The Titans went for a 2-point conversion and the field-goal edge, and Mariota misplaced the ball as he was getting sacked by the Chiefs’ Daniel Sorenson.
Frank Zombo picked it up and commenced working for 2 factors that might have swung the lead again to Kansas Metropolis, however the officers had dominated that Mariota’s progress had been stopped.
It wound up being an important name in a recreation that got here right down to the wire.
Solely two highway groups have rallied from at the least 18 right down to win a playoff recreation in NFL historical past. The Cowboys got here again from 21-Three down within the first half to beat the 49ers 30-28 in December 1972, and the Lions got here again from 27-7 within the second half to beat the 49ers in December 1957.
Kelce sustained a concussion on a depraved blow from Titans S Johnathan Cyprien late within the first half. Kelce, who had 4 catches for 66 yards, lay shocked on the turf for a second earlier than wobbling towards his huddle. Trainers rapidly took him to the locker room.
The Titans’ opponent within the divisional spherical can be determined Sunday. If the Jaguars beat the Payments of their wild-card matchup, Tennessee heads to New England to face the No. 1 seed. If Buffalo wins, the Titans head to face No. 2 seed Pittsburgh.
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